Rally's message: Hate crimes not tolerated in London
The event held on October 7 at the Victoria Park band shell, despite poor weather conditions, was led by Michelle Boyce who is the president of Diversity Training Live Inc. based in London. Boyce stressed the importance of the event.
“This isn't a gay rally, a lesbian or trans rally,” said Boyce. “It's a rally for Londoners to come out and say that these behaviours as a city are not acceptable and won't be tolerated against anyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or anything.”
Among the many political figures that spoke, were the deputy chief of London police, mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best, various individuals from a variety of anti-hate organizations, and the victims of hate crimes describing the events that changed their lives.
Fanshawe student Erik Rozenski, the most recent victim of a hate crime in London, spoke about the ordeal that has taken a toll on his wellbeing.
“We as a community will not tolerate this in any way, shape or form,” he told the large crowd. “People should defend who they are no matter what.”
A recent health survey revealed that hate crimes in London are more than double those of New York State. Of the 27 per cent on the survey who reported harassment or physical/sexual assault due to hate-based motivators, approximately 80 per cent failed to report these to police.
“London is a community that is safe and does not discriminate against anyone,” said Brad Duncan, London deputy police chief. “We will not tolerate violence in any form against those who have not done anything wrong at all.”
Duncan stressed members of the LGBT community shouldn't be afraid to come forward if anyone has done anything that would be considered a hate crime in order for an investigation to be launched.
LGBT-related hate crime in London is an issue that affects everyone in the community. Heterosexual men, women and children in secondary and elementary schools, are targeted with verbal and physical attacks for merely being perceived as having a different sexual orientation.
Londoners came to unite for one purpose. To live in a city that is free of hate and assumption.
A young child held a sign at the rally that read in bold letters “I love my heterosexual mom.”
Londoner Michael Davis merely came to lend his support as he stood in the crowd watching on.
“(I) came to give support not only to individuals but to say that violence cannot be tolerated against women and children as well,” said Davis.
According to Boyce labels, derogatory statements, symbols or words on paper have the power to lead to violent outcomes. These can impact and sometimes end the lives of those being targeted, but it is not always ‘bad' people who choose to engage in poor behavioural patterns, just uneducated ones.